The highly debated question everyone has been talking about, which team is better? For the sake of this argument, we will assume Team USA's starting line up will remain the same in the Olympics. Remember, NBA accolades, achievements, and championships are completely disregarded because this is about each player and how they would fit in on their particular team. With that being said, let's compare the Dream Team's starting line up against Team USA's.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Point Guard: Magic Johnson vs. Jason Kidd Advantage: Dream Team
While Kidd is the perfect fit for Team USA, there is nothing he can do that Magic couldn't do. Neither player is an outstanding shooter, Magic may have a slight edge there. However, at 6'9'', he is much better at creating an open shot for himself. Defensively, Kidd would struggle to match up with Magic, especially if he went in the post. They are both excellent decision makers in transition. Kidd's only advantage may be that Magic was close to retirement and he had already passed his prime by 1992. While Kidd is getting up there in age, he still has a few good years in him. The overall edge still goes to Magic.
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant Advantage: Even
Remember, we are going by how old they were at the time. 29 year old Jordan vs. 29 year old Kobe. Don't get me wrong, Kobe has a long way to go to become as good as Jordan was at say 34. These two are strikingly similar in basically every category. They are both their teams best defender. However, neither player would be able to shut the other down. Because of their excellent offensive and defensive skills, they basically cancel each other out in that aspect. Both players are extremely competitive. The only thing that could really separate the two, is how well they "let the game come to them." Which player is not going to force any shots and make the best decisions? Both unbelievably talented and skilled, there is no clear advantage here.
Small Forward: Larry Bird vs. Lebron James Advantage: Team USA
Plain and simple, at this point in time, Larry was a step slow and past his prime. No way in the world would he be able to guard Lebron. That leads some to say, well then the Dream Team would just play a 2-3 zone. Well that would present a whole world of problems for Chuck Daily that he wouldn't want(offensive rebounds, open three pointers, lack of defensive pressure). Clearly, Larry is the better shooter. However, with the international three point line, even Lebron is capable of shooting over 40%( See Fiba America's Championship stats). Larry would have a very difficult time consistently creating good shots for himself with Lebron on him. Overall, Lebron gives Team USA a big advantage in nearly every category.
Power Forward: Charles Barkley vs. Carmelo Anthony Advantage: Dream Team
For whatever reason, everyone wants to label Carmelo as Team USA's power forward when clearly he isn't. But, with basically a four guard starting lineup, someone had to be the PF. This is the hardest match up to compare, because it just depends on what you want to go by. Obviously, Carmelo would get dominated down low, which Team USA would either take their chances with him one on one, or bring a double team, leaving them susceptible to open three pointers. At the same time, Charles has no chance guarding Carmelo on the perimeter. He would be able to create a lot of shots for himself, and when the double team came, he would create for others. Carmelo is the best player team USA has when it comes to the "international game." However, he has a very similar skill set to Kobe and Lebron, where as Barkley brings a different dimension to his team with his blocking and rebounding ability. A very awkward match up, but the overall edge goes to Barkley.
Center: David Robinson vs. Dwight Howard Advantage: Dream Team
The similarities in this one are scary! Explosiveness, rebounding, blocking, dominance around the basket, they have all those skills without a doubt. They also both possess the same weakness, lack of a consistent jump shot outside of eight feet. At 27, Robinson was in his prime, where as Howard is not even close to reaching his potential. Raw isn't the word, but Howard still has a lot of room for improvement on his fundamentals and overall court sense. This is where Robinson has the advantage. His athletic ability is nearly equal to that of Howard's. While his skill and intelligence are far ahead of Howard's. Overall, Robinson gets the advantage in this one.
Winner: Dream Team
Another big factor, the Dream Team's bench is MUCH deeper, especially the post players. What they lack in athleticism, they make up with knowledge of the game and the fact that they are all proven winners and have been in the league for a while. With the exception of Kidd, every player on Team USA is going to get better. It would be a great game, but in the end the Dream Team would be too much for the inexperienced Team USA. But, man, this is one game I would love to see! Let's hope the nucleus of this talented Team USA squad can stay together so we can have this conversation again in 2012.
Clearly, this is all a matter of opinion. Feel free to leave comments whether you agree or disagree. I'm interested in seeing what everyone else thinks.